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Updated ESPN SP+ preseason projections look favorably on Utah and BYU

SHARE Updated ESPN SP+ preseason projections look favorably on Utah and BYU
Utah Utes running back Micah Bernard (2) gets pressured by BYU’s defense.

In this file photo, Utah Utes running back Micah Bernard (2) gets pressured by BYU’s defense during the second half of an NCAA college football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo. Both Utah and BYU are projected to be top 25 teams in 2022.

Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

There are new college football preseason projections out, and once again Utah and BYU are expected to be among the best teams in the country in 2022.

Created and produced by Bill Connelly, ESPN’s SP+ preseason projections take into account returning production, recruiting efforts (both high school and transfers) and a program’s recent history.

Connelly released an updated version of the SP+ projections Monday — an earlier edition was released in February — and both Utah and BYU are in the top 25.

Of note, SP+ doesn’t operate in the same way that a traditional “way too early” preseason poll does. As explained by Connelly, “it is a predictive measure of the most sustainable and predictable aspects of football, not a résumé ranking ... These projections aren’t intended to be a guess at what the AP Top 25 will look like at the end of the year. These are simply early offseason power rankings based on the information we have been able to gather to date.”

Where do the Utah Utes rank in SP+ preseason projections?

  • The Utes — preseason darlings at this point — slot in at No. 12 in Connelly’s updated projections, jumping two spots from the February edition.
  • SP+ metrics give Utah the 10th-best offense in the country entering the 2022-23 season, and the 31st-best defense.
  • The Utes slot in just behind Big 12-bound Cincinnati and in the same tier as reigning ACC champion Pitt, Penn State, Miami and Mississippi State.
  • Not one of Utah’s opponents in 2022 rate ahead of the Utes, and only two find themselves in the top 25 — Florida (No. 23) and Oregon (No. 24).

Where do the BYU Cougars rank in SP+ preseason projections?

  • The Cougars come in at No. 25, falling two spots from the earlier edition of SP+.
  • With nearly 80% of their offensive production back, BYU has the 13th-best offense. The Cougars’ defense, meanwhile, slots in at 49th.
  • BYU occupies the same tier as Florida, Oregon, Arkansas, Iowa and Florida State.
  • The Cougars rate behind only two of their 2022 opponents — Notre Dame (No. 7) and Oregon.

Where do the Utah State Aggies rank in SP+ preseason projections?

  • Utah State doesn’t rate nearly as highly as Utah or BYU in SP+, as the Aggies come in at No. 92.
  • Metrics give the Aggies the 73rd-best offense and the 107th-best defense.
  • USU occupies the same tier as Georgia Tech, Northern Illinois and Southern Mississippi.
  • Utah State will play six teams rated ahead of it — No. 2 Alabama, No. 25 BYU, No. 43 Boise State, No. 64 Air Force, No. 83 San Jose State and No. 87 Colorado State.